Interests of the Week – 38th week 2020

Searching for jobs is hard. Not just difficult as in takes time and concentration, but emotionally exhausting. Getting up without a commitment to do something each day is hard. Writing cover letter after cover letter is hard. Emotionally investing yourself into a different company, a different role, and even a different industry each day is really, really hard.

I’m particularly feeling the difficulty at the moment (hence why this post is a day late) because I’ve moved to London, where I was supposed to be living for my job at CVA. I feel very fortunate to have family and friends who are here to support me, but I’d like to take this moment to say that if you have any friends who are currently looking for jobs, check in on them. Ask if they want to hang out, see what they are applying to, what their plans are. But now, because consistency is key when looking for work, here are the most interesting topics of the past week in the world of business and psychology.

Choppy horizon – Ocean 1975 Vija Celmins

What I read

First up, what do you think of when you think of a leader? A large character, confident, makes themselves heard, and are easy to rally round? Turns out that those characteristics don’t translate to online. A new study has shown that the values that make someone a good boss in person are not the same as the qualities that make someone a good boss online. In the study, students were divided into groups that either collaborated online or offline. In the offline groups, the leaders that people selected were, as expected, confident, smart-seeming extraverts. In the online only groups, however, the leaders that emerged had a very different profile. Online leaders are doers – people with a propensity to planning, helping, keeping an eye on deadlines, and most importantly, actually doing work.

This discovery isn’t so revolutionary when you think about what it is that helped people to become leaders in the first place – being seen and heard. If you aren’t organizing, sending messages, and interacting, then it is no surprise that you aren’t at the front of peoples mind when they have a question or need to know what to do next. Application of this knowledge? If you work with colleagues online, make sure that you are responsive, organized, and dependable. Get the work done.

The second idea this week is related to the idea of a company mission. Companies with a mission that goes beyond the bottom line have more committed employees and customers can connect better with the brand (I talked about this idea in my cover letter to Arieli and Company). This HBR article examines the same topic from the idea of a pivot – having a mission that isn’t too specific nor too broad is key to keeping customers and investors with you on your company mission.

The core of the article is that humans desire consistency. So even when you have to reinvent your company and completely change the core offering and business plan, there should be something simple that stays the same. For example, Nom Nom Not Dairy wants to “make vegan baking easy”. Amazon wants to improve customer experience. Netflix wants to “entertain the world”, a mission that was easy to stick with in the pivot from physical to digital. The article has many example pairs of companies in the same field but with different missions, and clearly explains why one succeeded in carrying investors through the pivot, and the other dropped investors along the journey.

There are only two things that I think are worth mentioning this week. Other interesting short reads are about why the world trade center is missing from Spiderman the video game, an interview with Sid Meier (a name that you either know very well or not at all), and an interview with the man behind Sweden’s controversial approach to Covid. This week has been short due to job searching, moving to London, and some exciting developments in Nom Nom Not Dairy (we have our first stockists!).

But before you leave, give the post that brought you here a like or drop a comment about your experience of job searching, and reach out to a friend who is looking for work at the moment.

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